Black Country Derbies always carry with them a sense of local pride and importance but it will be felt more than ever on Saturday when Wolves host West Brom.
The Molineux clash will pit two teams against each other who are both in abysmal form in the Premier League, with the home side on a run of only one win in eight while Albion have just a solitary victory to their name this season against Sheffield United on November 28.
Both sides will be targeting what they see as a vital win. West Brom are in desperate need of points to mount an unlikely survival bid with the Baggies currently six points behind 17th placed Brighton while Wolves cannot consider themselves completely out of the woods yet in 14th position.
Sam Allardyce is still without a win in the five games since his tenure at The Hawthorns began and he will be targeting a first win ahead of tricky ties against in-form West Ham and Manchester City.
With just three goals in those said games, and two of them coming in an FA Cup defeat to League One side Blackpool, Big Sam will be plotting ways to get some goals out of his team.
Wolves have been widely praised for securing consecutive seventh-placed finishes in the Premier League since their promotion from the Championship in 2017/18 with their miserly defence playing a crucial role in that period.
However, there have been signs this season that the mask is beginning to slip for Nuno Espirito Santo and his side and there are a number of areas that Albion should be targeting to upset their rivals and gain a vital victory.
One weakness that has been apparent in Wolves’ game is their vulnerability from set pieces, something their boss has revealed his concern at.
Only Leeds United (10) have conceded more from these situations than Wolves (eight) while West Brom are actually one of the better teams in this regard, letting in just three goals from set pieces in the Premier League so far (WhoScored).
That means just under a third (10/26) of the goals they concede are from set pieces, marking a clear fragility in defence.
Meanwhile West Brom have scored four times from set pieces this season which is just over a third (4/11) of their goal total showing that this is one of the few strengths they possess.
Semi Ajayi scored from one against Blackpool at Bloomfield Road and he nodded one in against Liverpool at Anfield on December 27 to gain a 1-1 draw, while he also played a big role in the own goal that won them a shock point at Manchester City on December 15.
Per WhoScored, West Brom win 18.2 aerial duels per game to rank them in the top six of the Premier League for this metric, while Wolves win just 15.7 and sit 12th.
With the recent signing of Robert Snodgrass the club have secured a player famed for his pin-point precision from dead ball situations and so they will be minded to utilise his strengths and ensure he gets regular opportunities to prove this.
Matheus Pereira has been their creator in chief this season, though there has not been much competition if any, and he is also well capable of delivering dangerous set pieces so the Baggies are well stocked in that department.
It will be up to the big Baggies to take advantage of this.
Towering centre back Willy Boly has missed Wolves’ last six games and his aerial presence has been sorely missed at the back, with the Ivory Coast international level with Leander Dendoncker for aerials won per game (3.3).
Conor Coady and Roman Saiss has been the preferred partnership in the absence of Boly and their strengths clearly lie elsewhere.
Both players started their careers as midfielders before being converted into central defenders by Nuno.
Saiss wins 2.2 per game which is a huge drop off from Boly but still fairly respectable, but Coady’s figure is just 1.2 which is less than flying winger Adama Traore (1.8).
They are not the tallest defenders and this is certainly something Allardyce and his staff should be targeting as they aim to arrest their alarming slump, especially if Boly is missing again.
If they do then they might stand a chance of securing a positive result that will go a long way to restoring some confidence and belief in the team from fans.
In other West Brom news, see our exclusive interview with Super Kev on Troy Deeney’s Allardyce claim.